electric-wars
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If this has been asked before then I apologize, I'm quite new to TSR.

I have just begun A2 and have my heart set on studying Philosophy at university, it is probably the only subject which I have a profound personal interest in.

However, anybody in that field (Philosophy teachers, people who have studied Philosophy, people who worked for exam boards) seem to have the view that Philosophy is not a wise subject to study as a single honours degree (or even at all was the view of some), and that I should study it as a joint honours degree with another subject as job prospects for Philosophy graduates are supposedly low.

I'm not normally one to let the views of others completely sway my choices, but I'm now questioning whether or not Philosophy single honours is the right route to take. I was wondering what those currently studying the subject at University would advise? Thank you in advance for any replies.
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obstupefacere
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(Original post by electric-wars)
Thank you in advance for any replies.

The problem with Philosophy is it is not "vocational" - it doesn't suit any particular career, unlike say, engineering, law or medicine.

However, as a subject, Philosophy provides the transferable skills which can be applied to most professions in terms of analysis, critical thought and logic.

The skills that Philosophy gives are ideal for any "graduate job" entries, as well as perfectly suited to studying "professional" entries to subjects such as Law, Teaching and so forth.


However, all I can say is if you love a subject - study that one - as you will do far better at it, and get far more value for money. Philosophy is on par with studying Literature, History or any of the other "hard-arts", and is well respected and valued by graduate courses and employers --- just because it is not strictly vocation does not make it bad.

Unless you know you want to be an engineer, or a computer scientist then you are better off taking a degree with strong transferable skills - such as History, Philosophy, Literature --- rather than ending up studying engineering for three years, and coming out with a degree you can't use outside of the subject.

Go for it.
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electric-wars
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(Original post by obstupefacere)

Unless you know you want to be an engineer, or a computer scientist then you are better off taking a degree with strong transferable skills - such as History, Philosophy, Literature --- rather than ending up studying engineering for three years, and coming out with a degree you can't use outside of the subject.

Go for it.
Thank you, your reply was extremely helpful.
I would like to eventually go into Journalism but would not study at University because I feel as though, as you stated may be the case, studying something which is purely vocational narrows the pathway for other future possibilities. Do you study Philosophy as a single honours degree?
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obstupefacere
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(Original post by electric-wars)
Thank you, your reply was extremely helpful.
I would like to eventually go into Journalism but would not study at University because I feel as though, as you stated may be the case, studying something which is purely vocational narrows the pathway for other future possibilities. Do you study Philosophy as a single honours degree?

Yes, single honours.

You can always choose pertinent modules to Journalism in the second and third years (to some extent).

If at University you pick up work on a number of Journalistic opportunities such as college / subject / private newspapers, this will support an application to Journalism, or indeed to MA courses specializing in vocational Journalism. If, indeed after three years you still want to be a Journalist.

I'd find, it is best to stick with what you enjoy now; keep an eye on the future - but don't rush towards something that is easy to put on a pedestal, a few years down the line ones opinion might be different.

A single honours degree is more flexible, as it has less core modules. If, for example, I studied "Philosophy and Physics", there would be less free module slots for me to choose from, as I would have to hit the "core" modules for both subjects.
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King Leonidas
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(Original post by obstupefacere)
Yes, single honours.

You can always choose pertinent modules to Journalism in the second and third years (to some extent).

If at University you pick up work on a number of Journalistic opportunities such as college / subject / private newspapers, this will support an application to Journalism, or indeed to MA courses specializing in vocational Journalism. If, indeed after three years you still want to be a Journalist.

I'd find, it is best to stick with what you enjoy now; keep an eye on the future - but don't rush towards something that is easy to put on a pedestal, a few years down the line ones opinion might be different.

A single honours degree is more flexible, as it has less core modules. If, for example, I studied "Philosophy and Physics", there would be less free module slots for me to choose from, as I would have to hit the "core" modules for both subjects.
Hello, I don't know if you remember me (I spoke to you on a thread about me studying philosophy at university). I have recently recieved a letter from my chosen university which contains a small essay to write and a reading list with suggestions and 'must have' books. Under philosophy it says that I should buy

- Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy (translation but John Cottingham) and
- Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre

I was wondering if you've read them in the past and whether they're any good and not too complex in terms of understanding what's being said?

Thank you:rolleyes:
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User722716
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(Original post by pinda.college)
Hello, I don't know if you remember me (I spoke to you on a thread about me studying philosophy at university). I have recently recieved a letter from my chosen university which contains a small essay to write and a reading list with suggestions and 'must have' books. Under philosophy it says that I should buy

- Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy (translation but John Cottingham) and
- Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre

I was wondering if you've read them in the past and whether they're any good and not too complex in terms of understanding what's being said?

Thank you:rolleyes:
Good lord, where are you going that has Sartre on an introductory reading list!? I suppose you might say that one's pretty hard to understand insofar as he never seems to actually say anything. Or maybe you'd say there's just nothing there to be understood, I don't know.

Meditations is really short and pretty easy to follow. Not much of merit in that either, really.
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obstupefacere
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(Original post by pinda.college)
- Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy (translation but John Cottingham) and
- Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre

I was wondering if you've read them in the past and whether they're any good and not too complex in terms of understanding what's being said?

Thank you:rolleyes:
First of all, Congratulations on your offer.

I have had the misfortune of reading Existentialism is a Humanism; it was both painful and unpleasant experience - the whole idea of ontological existentialism is grotesque, and is merely a complete rehash of nominalism (qua Ockham); the difference is Sarte does not give any compelling or rational reasons for this. It is not a difficult work to understand - it is a difficult work to tolerate.

Descartes Meditations are even easier to understand; but they must be given some credit for the time in which they were written - although their current value is somewhat debatable they do have an important position in the History of philosophy.

However... I was not aware they taught Sarte as philosophy... I thought it was bad enough that people such as Husserl or Kierkegaard were being taught.... Aiee, what is next - astrology?
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Einheri
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(Original post by obstupefacere)
The problem with Philosophy is it is not "vocational" - it doesn't suit any particular career, unlike say, engineering, law or medicine.
The same is true of any humanities subject. The problem with Philosophy is that people (wrongly) have the view that Philosophy grads have what is basically a degree in bull****.
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obstupefacere
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(Original post by Einheri)
The same is true of any humanities subject. The problem with Philosophy is that people (wrongly) have the view that Philosophy grads have what is basically a degree in bull****.
Well some people might have that view; but Philosophy gets quite reasonable graduate employment statistics, alongside other "traditional-academic" arts such as Literature, History.

It isn't anywhere near as problematic in the employment market as some more recent arts degrees... Or "vocational" arts degrees, like... art.
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dbmag9
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(Original post by pinda.college)
- Descartes: Mediations on First Philosophy (translation but John Cottingham) and
- Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre

I was wondering if you've read them in the past and whether they're any good and not too complex in terms of understanding what's being said?

Thank you:rolleyes:
As books by actual philosophers go, neither of those are too difficult, though of course it's always more difficult when you don't have anything to guide you. I'm sure there's a fair amount of stuff about both on the internet, and you can always come here and ask for advice if you don't understand what they're getting at. Broadly speaking the Descartes is an exercise in philosophical skepticism: Descartes wants to know that what he sees around him is real, so he starts off by figuring out what there is that we can definitely be sure of (the famous bit), and then tries to reason outwards from there. If I remember correctly Meditations is written as a sort of diary, which makes it a bit more readable. The Sartre on that list is a book that came out of lecture notes, so it's a lot easier going than most existentialism. Basically existentialism is about responding to the fact that we exist (hence the name) with no guidebook to the world, and have to figure out what it means to be a person and how we should live our lives. There's a fun café analogy (pretty sure it's in this one) that you can read in an exagerated French accent for amusement.
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King Leonidas
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(Original post by User722716)
Good lord, where are you going that has Sartre on an introductory reading list!? I suppose you might say that one's pretty hard to understand insofar as he never seems to actually say anything. Or maybe you'd say there's just nothing there to be understood, I don't know.

Meditations is really short and pretty easy to follow. Not much of merit in that either, really.
Thank you, seems as though Sartre will be difficult however, I'm willing to read it and give it a chance.
(Original post by obstupefacere)
First of all, Congratulations on your offer.

I have had the misfortune of reading Existentialism is a Humanism; it was both painful and unpleasant experience - the whole idea of ontological existentialism is grotesque, and is merely a complete rehash of nominalism (qua Ockham); the difference is Sarte does not give any compelling or rational reasons for this. It is not a difficult work to understand - it is a difficult work to tolerate.

Descartes Meditations are even easier to understand; but they must be given some credit for the time in which they were written - although their current value is somewhat debatable they do have an important position in the History of philosophy.

However... I was not aware they taught Sarte as philosophy... I thought it was bad enough that people such as Husserl or Kierkegaard were being taught.... Aiee, what is next - astrology?
Thanks for congratulating me From the above comment Sartre doesn't seem very popular, but like I've stated above, I'm willing to take the effort and time to understand what these books aim to get a cross and hope I'm lured into the realms of philosophy. Kind of dissapointed that they haven't suggested any material by Plato or Aristotle, their way of thinking is so deep and fascinates me.
(Original post by dbmag9)
As books by actual philosophers go, neither of those are too difficult, though of course it's always more difficult when you don't have anything to guide you. I'm sure there's a fair amount of stuff about both on the internet, and you can always come here and ask for advice if you don't understand what they're getting at. Broadly speaking the Descartes is an exercise in philosophical skepticism: Descartes wants to know that what he sees around him is real, so he starts off by figuring out what there is that we can definitely be sure of (the famous bit), and then tries to reason outwards from there. If I remember correctly Meditations is written as a sort of diary, which makes it a bit more readable. The Sartre on that list is a book that came out of lecture notes, so it's a lot easier going than most existentialism. Basically existentialism is about responding to the fact that we exist (hence the name) with no guidebook to the world, and have to figure out what it means to be a person and how we should live our lives. There's a fun café analogy (pretty sure it's in this one) that you can read in an exagerated French accent for amusement.
Cheers for the informative response Dmag, I remember you was helpful last time we spoke. I hope I can talk to you guys when I get more into my course because you all obviously know what you're talking about and I would love to discuss topics on here.
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obstupefacere
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(Original post by pinda.college)
Thanks for congratulating me From the above comment Sartre doesn't seem very popular, but like I've stated above, I'm willing to take the effort and time to understand what these books aim to get a cross and hope I'm lured into the realms of philosophy. Kind of dissapointed that they haven't suggested any material by Plato or Aristotle, their way of thinking is so deep and fascinates me.

Just get a "complete works" of Plato and Aristotle. I have the complete works of both authors in 3 (1+2, respectively).

It will be cheaper in the long run than slowly compiling individual works.
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King Leonidas
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(Original post by User722716)
Good lord, where are you going that has Sartre on an introductory reading list!? I suppose you might say that one's pretty hard to understand insofar as he never seems to actually say anything. Or maybe you'd say there's just nothing there to be understood, I don't know.

Meditations is really short and pretty easy to follow. Not much of merit in that either, really.

(Original post by obstupefacere)
First of all, Congratulations on your offer.

I have had the misfortune of reading Existentialism is a Humanism; it was both painful and unpleasant experience - the whole idea of ontological existentialism is grotesque, and is merely a complete rehash of nominalism (qua Ockham); the difference is Sarte does not give any compelling or rational reasons for this. It is not a difficult work to understand - it is a difficult work to tolerate.

Descartes Meditations are even easier to understand; but they must be given some credit for the time in which they were written - although their current value is somewhat debatable they do have an important position in the History of philosophy.

However... I was not aware they taught Sarte as philosophy... I thought it was bad enough that people such as Husserl or Kierkegaard were being taught.... Aiee, what is next - astrology?

(Original post by dbmag9)
As books by actual philosophers go, neither of those are too difficult, though of course it's always more difficult when you don't have anything to guide you. I'm sure there's a fair amount of stuff about both on the internet, and you can always come here and ask for advice if you don't understand what they're getting at. Broadly speaking the Descartes is an exercise in philosophical skepticism: Descartes wants to know that what he sees around him is real, so he starts off by figuring out what there is that we can definitely be sure of (the famous bit), and then tries to reason outwards from there. If I remember correctly Meditations is written as a sort of diary, which makes it a bit more readable. The Sartre on that list is a book that came out of lecture notes, so it's a lot easier going than most existentialism. Basically existentialism is about responding to the fact that we exist (hence the name) with no guidebook to the world, and have to figure out what it means to be a person and how we should live our lives. There's a fun café analogy (pretty sure it's in this one) that you can read in an exagerated French accent for amusement.
I appreciate the assistance everyone. I'm currently reading about Aristotle and I've just read an introduction about him wanting to investigate the nature of things and how we explain why things exist. However, there's a concept I'm finding rather annoying and difficult to grasp. I acknowledge that there's four causes as to why things and objects exist (material, formal, efficient and final cause). The precise concept that's baffling me is the 'prime mover', the book I have doesn't explain it well and what it does mention is rather confusing. Could you explain the me what the prime mover is and name any example if possible, if it's any help I've learned about the changing world 'motion' and how if something changes, it can exist in 'actuality', e.g.- a cow in a farm or has the 'potential' to be something else, e.g.-beef.

All I really know about the prime mover is that it exists by necessity, thus it cannot seize to exist. It's not capable of change, therefore it's actuality by nature (meaning it's good because it doesn't need to change anything, it's not lacking in anything).

But what is a prime mover in terms of what I've told you?

Thank you
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User722716
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(Original post by pinda.college)
I appreciate the assistance everyone. I'm currently reading about Aristotle and I've just read an introduction about him wanting to investigate the nature of things and how we explain why things exist. However, there's a concept I'm finding rather annoying and difficult to grasp. I acknowledge that there's four causes as to why things and objects exist (material, formal, efficient and final cause). The precise concept that's baffling me is the 'prime mover', the book I have doesn't explain it well and what it does mention is rather confusing. Could you explain the me what the prime mover is and name any example if possible, if it's any help I've learned about the changing world 'motion' and how if something changes, it can exist in 'actuality', e.g.- a cow in a farm or has the 'potential' to be something else, e.g.-beef.

All I really know about the prime mover is that it exists by necessity, thus it cannot seize to exist. It's not capable of change, therefore it's actuality by nature (meaning it's good because it doesn't need to change anything, it's not lacking in anything).

But what is a prime mover in terms of what I've told you?

Thank you
Don't be put off if you find Aristotle confusing, the ancient greeks might have been critical to the development of philosophy but they certainly didn't do what we would today call philosophy. If you think this stuff makes sense you probably didn't understand it!

Basically, you're talking abut gods in one way or another, but close examinations will differ on what exactly he was jabbering about.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by User722716)
Good lord, where are you going that has Sartre on an introductory reading list!? I suppose you might say that one's pretty hard to understand insofar as he never seems to actually say anything. Or maybe you'd say there's just nothing there to be understood, I don't know.

Meditations is really short and pretty easy to follow. Not much of merit in that either, really.
First year I did a presentation on Sartre on being forced to be free (or whatever the catchy title was)...that wasn't THAT difficult. You can also get a lot of understanding from the many many secondary texts out there. I'd be more annoyed that ****ing Descartes is coming up again. Such a pain in the arse, if I wanted to sleep I'd put lavender oil under my nose and take a tablet, but oh no we were told to read Descartes, my third year and they made me read ****ING DESCARTES!

Edit:
Condemned to be free, that were it!!!
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User722716
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(Original post by there's too much love)
First year I did a presentation on Sartre on being forced to be free (or whatever the catchy title was)...that wasn't THAT difficult. You can also get a lot of understanding from the many many secondary texts out there. I'd be more annoyed that ****ing Descartes is coming up again. Such a pain in the arse, if I wanted to sleep I'd put lavender oil under my nose and take a tablet, but oh no we were told to read Descartes, my third year and they made me read ****ING DESCARTES!

Edit:
Condemned to be free, that were it!!!
I don't think difficulty is really the problem with writers like Sartre. Difficulty is about the challenge of gleaning meaning from bad writing, Sartre probably doesn't have any meaning to glean most of the time.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by User722716)
I don't think difficulty is really the problem with writers like Sartre. Difficulty is about the challenge of gleaning meaning from bad writing, Sartre probably doesn't have any meaning to glean most of the time.
The texts I've read have had a fair amount of meaning. And difficulty isn't about the challenge of interpreting the meaning of bad writing, it can be, but in philosophy it's often about managing to understand a new way of thinking and using the tools you're presented with as you read texts to interpret and reinterpret the data. I don't think many people would say Wittgenstein's work was poorly written, but it isn't simple or something most people can just understand.
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Keckers
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(Original post by obstupefacere)
rather than ending up studying engineering for three years, and coming out with a degree you can't use outside of the subject.
I'm sorry, but this is rubbish.

Engineering graduates are desirable for a vast multitude of jobs outside engineering. In fact 40% of engineering graduates go into employment outside the engineering sector.
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King Leonidas
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(Original post by User722716)
Don't be put off if you find Aristotle confusing, the ancient greeks might have been critical to the development of philosophy but they certainly didn't do what we would today call philosophy. If you think this stuff makes sense you probably didn't understand it!

Basically, you're talking abut gods in one way or another, but close examinations will differ on what exactly he was jabbering about.
Thank God, I've been reading over this chapter for the last few hours trying desperately to comprehend what the prime mover is, so what would you advise when I come across these difficult spots in my reading (like areas I cannot get my head around) because at the moment I'm trying to understand everything before turning the page.

Tar for replying so quickly aswell mate.
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User722716
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(Original post by pinda.college)
Thank God, I've been reading over this chapter for the last few hours trying desperately to comprehend what the prime mover is, so what would you advise when I come across these difficult spots in my reading (like areas I cannot get my head around) because at the moment I'm trying to understand everything before turning the page.

Tar for replying so quickly aswell mate.
Yeah it's a pretty common problem. What I try and do is just read through twice, if I don't get it put the book down and leave it for a while, then come back to it the next day or something. In my experience reading for more than about 20-30 minutes at a time is just counter-productive, best to let it sink in.

Sometimes as well you'll find reading a full chapter at a time helps with some of the particularly bad authors - Aristotle obviously included - as the discussion on page 2 of what they've said on page 1 can help you work out what exactly it is they've said on page 1.

I think a common problem you may be suffering from is assuming that everything these wondrous hero figures (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume...) have to say is gold dust. A lot of undergrads get tripped up by that but the fact is, a lot of the time these works just aren't relevant to contemporary philosophical concerns. Ok, they were all probably clever blokes but don't be afraid to think they were just talking rubbish a lot of the time. Particularly with the ancient Greeks, they very much were!
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